OpinionU.S.-Israel Relations

Biden turns on Israel

He doesn’t understand that Hamas loves dead Gazans.

IDF soldiers at the Kerem Shalom crossing with the Gaza Strip, Feb. 22, 2024. Credit: Erik Marmor/Flash90
IDF soldiers at the Kerem Shalom crossing with the Gaza Strip, Feb. 22, 2024. Credit: Erik Marmor/Flash90
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Clifford D. May
Clifford D. May is the founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), as well as a columnist for “The Washington Times.”

Kerem Shalom is one of the main crossings through which humanitarian assistance moves from Israel into Gaza. It lies just a few miles southeast of Rafah, where four Hamas battalions are believed to be preparing for battle with the IDF.

On May 5, rockets launched from Gaza at this border crossing killed four Israeli soldiers. Why would Hamas leaders attack a conduit for aid needed by Gazan civilians, the people they have ruled since 2007 and want to continue to rule “the day after” the current war ends?

Because Hamas understands that the more Gazans suffer, the more Israelis will be blamed, punished and demonized by the “international community.”

Because they know that using civilians as human shields—which is illegal under both international and American law—will not diminish their popularity among the “social justice warriors” on American campuses.

Because they are confident that their barbarism will be not just condoned but handsomely rewarded.

Sure enough, the attack on Kerem Shalom was soon followed by complaints that the Israelis were not moving fast enough to reopen the crossing (how long does it take to clean up a few corpses?) and get those humanitarian supplies flowing into Gaza again.

Two days later, Hamas fired more missiles at Kerem Shalom from a civilian shelter in Gaza. Hamas missiles were fired at the crossing again on May 8, 10, 11 and 12. Israeli military officials assured impatient reporters that the crossing would be reopened as quickly as possible.

If this does not strike you as grotesque, there’s no point in you reading the rest of this column.

Last Tuesday, President Joe Biden gave a moving speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, recalling the Nazi genocide of the Jewish communities of Europe and vowing “Never again.”

The next day, in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett, Biden lent encouragement to Hamas’s leaders whose goal is to follow the Nazi example by exterminating the only surviving and thriving Jewish community remaining in the Middle East. The atrocities of Oct. 7, they’ve vowed, were merely a foretaste.

For months, Biden and other Democrats had slammed Republicans (quite rightly) for not passing a bill providing arms to Ukraine and Israel—democratic nations and friends of America under attack by enemies of America. Thanks to House Speaker Mike Johnson, the bill finally passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

But Biden told Burnett that he was holding up the delivery of munitions to Israel and would block additional security assistance if Israel launches a major assault on Hamas in Rafah.

“We’re not walking away from Israel’s security,” Biden equivocated. “We’re walking away from Israel’s ability to wage war in those areas.”

Wars cannot be won on defense alone. Boxers don’t win fights just by blocking punches. “Deterrence by denial” not coupled with “deterrence by punishment” invites enemies to try, try again.

If Israelis must fight terrorists without American support, they will do so. They’ve done it before. Israel exists so that never again will Jews lack the means to stand up to those determined to slaughter their children.

But Israeli leaders can’t focus all their attention or all their remaining ammunition on Gaza. Hezbollah, a proxy of Iran like Hamas, continues to fire missiles from Lebanon. Some 80,000 Israelis have been forced from their homes in the north for more than seven months.

And last month, for the first time, Iran’s rulers launched hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel from Iranian soil. This time, those rockets were prevented from reaching their intended victims. But there will be a next time. And the regime’s nuclear weapons program has progressed significantly since Biden moved into the White House and eased economic sanctions on Tehran.

Israeli leaders must prioritize and sequence as best they can. They appear to agree that neutralizing Hamas’s military capabilities is imperative and that sooner is better than later.

I can’t imagine them allowing Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahyah Sinwar, to emerge from the tunnels and declare himself the victor. He will proclaim himself the jihadi who beat the accursed Jews; the mujahid who humiliated the cowardly Palestinian Authority and the Arab Zionists who joined the hated Abraham Accords.

What I can imagine: The IDF bringing an end to this conflict without a “full-scale offensive” or “major military operation”—terms Biden administration officials have used to describe the military actions they adamantly oppose.

For example, over recent days, with precision and minimal combat, the IDF has taken control of the Gazan side of the Philadelphia Corridor, the border with Egypt, adjacent to Rafah.

Stopping resupplies of ammunition to Hamas coming over that border should not be difficult. Stopping resupplies of ammunition to Hamas coming under that border through tunnels will be more complicated.

But an effort has begun. On Saturday, the IDF announced that a “significant underground route” near the border containing “many weapons” had been “eliminated” along with “dozens of terrorists.”

Beforehand, civilians had been moved out of harm’s way despite Hamas’s efforts to facilitate their martyrdom.

If that is Israel’s continuing approach, will Biden be satisfied? Bernie Sanders and Rashida Tlaib will instruct him not to be.

Late last week, White House Spokesman John Kirby told reporters that there is still hope for a hostage-for-ceasefire deal but to achieve it is “going to require leadership, some moral courage and it’s going to require continued ability to compromise and negotiate in good faith. We’re not giving up on that.”

Kirby is doing his job like the good sailor he is. But I doubt he’s proud of himself for ascribing to Hamas terrorists a capacity for “moral courage.”

More than that: He’s too smart not to understand that Hamas loves dead Gazans.

Originally published by The Washington Times.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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